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2.2: Salary potential of accountants

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    Selecting a major represents much more than the choice of courses a student takes in college. To a significant degree, the student's major, along with academic performance, will determine the career paths available upon graduation. Few professionals would recommend a specific career choice based solely on salaries. However, as students select their major and map out their career path, it is important that they make informed decisions with respect to the potential financial rewards of the various options. Outlined below is information on selected salaries for many accounting-related careers. These salaries, current as of 2009, should be viewed only as guidelines. Salaries at all levels can vary significantly between locations. Also, one should add 10 to 15 per cent to the listed salary for professional certifications (such as the CPA) or for a graduate degree (Masters of Accounting or MBA).

    Salaries for Public Accounting, Non-Partners


    Large CPA Firms:

    Salary Range

    Starting Salaries

    $35,750 - $42,500

    Salary between 1-3 years

    $41,000 - $51,250


    $77,750 - $119,000

    Small CPA Firms:

    Starting Salaries

    $29,500 - $36,250

    Salary between 1-3 years

    $33,750 - $42,500


    $62,750 - $84,500

    Salaries for Corporate Accounting

    - Large Corporations


    Salary Range

    Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer

    $244,500 - $347,000

    Vice President, Finance

    $189,000 - $293,500

    Director of Finance

    $121,500 - $178,250

    Director of Accounting

    $115,250 - $157,500


    $105,750 - $147,250

    Assistant Controller

    $89,750 - $114,750

    Tax Director

    $117,000 - $209,750

    Tax Manager

    $78,000 - $113,750

    Audit Director

    $127,750 - $200,750

    General Accounting - Manager

    $61,250 - $83,250

    General Accounting - 1-3 years experience

    $37,500 - $48,750

    General Accounting - starting salary

    $31,750 - $39,750

    Students interested in a career in accounting and finance can find detailed information for these and many other accounting related careers at Robert Half ( Also, accounting professors are generally familiar with starting salaries and job opportunities for accounting graduates, so you may want to address more specific questions about potential careers and salaries with them.

    In Chapter 1, we illustrated the income statement, statement of retained earnings, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows. These statements are the end products of the financial accounting process, which is based on the accounting equation. The financial accounting process quantifies past management decisions. The results of these decisions are communicated to users—management, creditors, and investors—and serve as a basis for making future decisions.

    The raw data of accounting are the business transactions. We recorded the transactions in Chapter 1 as increases or decreases in the assets, liabilities, and stockholders' equity items of the accounting equation. This procedure showed you how various transactions affected the accounting equation. When working through these sample transactions, you probably suspected that listing all transactions as increases or decreases in the transactions summary columns would be too cumbersome in practice. Most businesses, even small ones, enter into many transactions every day. Chapter 2 teaches you how to actually record business transactions in the accounting process.

    To explain the dual procedure of recording business transactions with debits and credits, we introduce you to some new tools: the T-account, the journal, and the ledger. Using these tools, you can follow a company through its various business transactions. Like accountants, you can use a trial balance to check the equality of your recorded debits and credits. This is the double-entry accounting system that the Franciscan monk, Luca Pacioli, described centuries ago. Understanding this system enables you to better understand the content of financial statements so you can use the information provided to make informed business decisions.

    2.2: Salary potential of accountants is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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